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It’s a typical Sunday at First Baptist Church for Dustin. Pastor Jon had just finished his sermon and announced that after the closing hymn he is going to baptize Thomas, a college student who, after wrestling with doubts over the resurrection for years, has finally believed the gospel. Dustin’s wife ducks out during the first verse of the hymn to retrieve their children from the nursery. When she arrives back at the pew with their gaggle of children, Dustin is noticeably flustered by their raucous behavior. As the final verse ends he decides to sneak out with his family before the baptism. His conscience is troubled at leaving early, but he decides to go ahead anyway. After all, Thomas’ baptism doesn’t really have anything to do with him, does it? Isn’t it just about Thomas personal profession of faith? He can do that just as well without Dustin and his family.
Dustin’s attitude toward Thomas’ baptism represents the way many evangelicals think about the ordinances. For many, baptism is essentially about my personal profession of faith, an expression of my obedience to Jesus. Regrettably, this individualism characterizes how many Christians even think about the more obviously communal ordinance, the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper is purely about my remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice, my confession of sin, or my hope in the Lord’s return. So with eyes tightly shut and hearts pretty well indifferent to who may or may not be in the room, the Lord’s Supper becomes nothing more than an act of private devotion—just one we do in proximity to a lot of other Christians.
Bible - Portrait - Ordinances - Function - Life
The Bible, however, paints a very different portrait for how the ordinances function in the life of the church. Let me submit three ways the Bible shows us how the ordinances should shape our relationships with...
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